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Interpretive Guidance - Interpretive Notices
Publication date:
Notice Concerning Syndicate Expenses
Rule Number:

Rule G-11, Rule G-17

Board rule G-11, concerning syndicate practices, among other things, requires syndicates to establish priorities for different categories of orders and requires certain disclosures to syndicate members which are intended to assure that allocations are made in accordance with those priorities. Rule G-11(h)(i) requires that a senior syndicate manager, at or before final settlement of a syndicate account, furnish to syndicate members "an itemized statement setting forth the nature and amount of all actual expenses incurred on behalf of the syndicate." One of the purposes of this section is to render managers accountable for their handling of syndicate funds.

Over the years, the Board, pursuant to rule G-11 and rule G-17, on fair dealing, has urged syndicate managers to provide members with a clear and accurate itemized statement of all actual expenses incurred in the underwriting of each issue. In a 1984 notice, the Board stated that expense items must be sufficiently described to make the expenditures readily understandable by syndicate members, and that generalized categories of expenses are not sufficient if they do not portray the specific nature of the expenses. [1] In 1985, the Board issued a notice specifically warning managers to take care in determining actual syndicate expenses, and noting that managers may violate rule G-17 if the expenses charged to syndicate members bear no relation to, or otherwise overstate, the actual expenses incurred. [2] And in 1987, in response to industry complaints concerning the amount of syndicate expenses charged by managers, the Board issued another notice reiterating that Board rules prohibit managers from overstating actual syndicate expenses. [3]

The Board wishes to reiterate its interpretation of rules G-11 and G-17 that syndicate expenses charged to members must be clearly identified and must be the actual expenses incurred on behalf of the syndicate. [4] The Board continues to be concerned over the number of complaints about syndicate managers who may be charging expenses that are overstated or excessive, particularly with respect to clearance fees for designated sales and computer expenses. Board rules specifically prohibit managers from overstating actual syndicate expenses.

The Board urges syndicate members to report possible overstatements of syndicate expenses and other problems in compliance with rule G-11(h)(i). The Board will continue to monitor this situation, and will refer any complaints it receives in this area to the appropriate enforcement agencies. In addition, the NASD has alerted the Board that it will accept telephone complaints or information from syndicate members who do not wish to reveal their identities.


[1] Notice Concerning Disclosure of Syndicate Expenses (January 12, 1984), [reprinted in MSRB Reports, Vol. 4, No. 1 (February 1984) at 9].

[2] Notice Concerning Syndicate Managers Charging Excessive Fees for Designated Sales (July 29, 1985), [reprinted in MSRB Reports, Vol. 5, No. 5 (August 1985) at 17].

[3] Notice Concerning Syndicate Expenses that Appear Excessive (March 3, 1987), [reprinted in MSRB Reports, Vol. 7, No. 2 (March 1987) at 5].

[4] See MSRB Reports, Vol. 5, No. 6 (November 1985)[at 5], and Vol. 5, No. 5 (August 1985)[at 5].

Interpretive Guidance - Interpretive Letters
Publication date:
Disclosure of the Investment of Bond Proceeds
Rule Number:

Rule G-15, Rule G-47

Disclosure of the investment of bond proceeds. This is in response to your letter asking whether rule G-15(a), on customer confirmations, requires disclosure of the investment of bond proceeds.

Rule G-15(a)(i)(E)[*] requires dealers to note on customer confirmations the description of the securities, including, at a minimum

the name of the issuer, interest rate, maturity date and if the securities are limited tax, subject to redemption prior to maturity (callable), or revenue bonds, an indication to such effect, including in the case of revenue bonds the type of revenue, if necessary for a materially complete description of the securities, and in the case of any securities, if necessary for a materially complete description of the securities, the name of any company or other person in addition to the issuer obligated, directly or indirectly, with respect to debt service or, if there is more than one such obligor, the statement "multiple obligors" may be shown.

The Board has not interpreted this provision as requiring disclosure of the investment of bond proceeds.

Of course, rule G-17, on fair dealing, has been interpreted by the Board to require that, in connection with the purchase from or sale of a municipal security to a customer, at or before execution of the transaction, a dealer must disclose all material facts concerning the transaction which could affect the customer's investment decision and must not omit any material facts which would render other statements misleading. Thus, if information on the investment of bond proceeds of a particular issue is a material fact, Board rules require disclosure at the time of trade. MSRB Interpretation of August 16, 1991.

 


 

[*][Currently codified at rules G-15(a)(i)(B) and G-15(a)(i)(C)]

Interpretive Guidance - Interpretive Letters
Publication date:
Current Refundings
Rule Number:

Current Refundings. This is in response to your letter of July 10, 1991. You note that, pursuant to recently adopted amendments to rule G-36, underwriters are required to deliver advance refunding documents (i.e., escrow agreements) to the Board. You state that, under Section 149(d)(5) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended, an advance refunding issue is one which will be issued more than 90 days before the redemption of the refunded bonds. Escrow deposits customarily are made of U.S. government obligations or other highly-rated securities which are sufficient to pay principal and interest to retire the bonds being refunded over some period of time. You note, however, that for current refundings, there also are short-term escrows established for periods of less than 90 days which involve the investment of bond proceeds in permitted defeasance securities until the first permitted redemption date. You ask whether it is necessary to file Form G-36(ARD) and the related documents when the escrow period is less than 90 days. The Board has reviewed your request and has authorized this response.

Rule G-36 requires underwriters, among other things, to provide advance refunding documents to the Board. The purpose of this requirement is so these documents will be available through the Board's Municipal Securities Information Library(TM) (MSIL(TM)) system, to the holders of the refunded issues, as well as dealers and customers effecting transactions in such issue. In general, municipal securities industry participants consider advance refunding issues as those issued more than 90 days before the redemption of the refunded bonds. The current refunding issues you describe would not be considered advance refunding issues. Thus, rule G-36 does not require underwriters to provide the Board with escrow agreements for current refundings.

*In 2009, the MSRB amended and consolidated Rule G-36, on delivery of official statements, advance refunding documents and forms G-36(OS) and G36(ARD) and Rule G-32, on disclosures in connection with new issues into Rule G-32, on disclosures in connection with primary offerings. See Release No. 34-59966 (May 21, 2009), 102 FR 25790 (May 29, 2009). Effective May 10, 2021, this notice expressly shall apply to analogous interpretive issues under Rule G-32, on disclosures in connection with primary offerings.

Interpretive Guidance - Interpretive Notices
Publication date:
Notice Concerning Securities that Prepay Principal
Rule Number:

Rule G-17, Rule G-47

The Board has become aware of several issues of municipal securities that prepay principal to the bondholders over the life of the issue. These securities are issued with a face value that equals the total principal amount of the securities. However, as the prepayment of principal to bondholders occurs over time, the "unpaid principal" associated with a given quantity of the securities become an increasingly lower percentage of the face amount. The Board believes that there is a possibility of confusion in transactions involving such securities, since most dealers and customers are accustomed to municipal securities in which the face amount always equals the principal amount that will be paid at maturity.

Because of the somewhat unusual nature of the securities, the Board believes that dealers should be alert to their disclosure responsibilities. For customer transactions, rule G-17 requires that the dealer disclose to its customer, at or prior to the time of trade, all material facts with respect to the proposed transaction. Because the prepayment of principal is a material feature of these securities, dealers must ensure that the customer knows that securities prepay principal. The dealer also must inform the customer of the amount of unpaid principal that will be delivered on the transaction.

For inter-dealer transactions, there is no specific requirement for a dealer to disclose all material facts to another dealer at time of trade. A selling dealer is not generally charged with the responsibility to ensure that the purchasing dealer knows all relevant features of the securities being offered for sale. The selling dealer may rely, at least to a reasonable extent, on the fact that the purchasing dealer is also a professional and will satisfy his need for information prior to entering into a contract for the securities. Nevertheless, it is possible that non-disclosure of an unusual feature such as principal prepayment might constitute an unfair practice and thus become a violation of rule G-17 even in an inter-dealer transaction. This would be especially true if the information about the prepayment feature is not accessible to the market and is intentionally withheld by the selling dealer. Whether or not non-disclosure constitutes an unfair practice in a specific case would depend upon the individual facts of the case. However, to avoid trade disputes and settlement delays in inter-dealer transactions, it generally is in dealers’ interest to reach specific agreement on the existence of any prepayment feature and the amount of unpaid principal that will be delivered.